Friday, May 4, 2012

Travelling ‘cattle class’

              It was a long day....logged in for work at 7am. Had to finish the mandatory 3.5 hrs in office to get my attendance marked. Then I had to rush to B’lore from Mysore to catch the 7pm train from Yeshwanthpur. The prodigal son was returning home after a gap of 6 months....battle scarred yet victorious. I managed to catch the train...just in the nick of time....and finally settled in my comfy side lower berth of the A2 coach. Though a li'l tired, I was high on spirits...for I was going HOME....After an early dinner, I drowsed off. Just when my dream girl was approaching (in my dream of course), a commotion woke me up, a weird cacophony of a male, female and kids voice, all speaking at the same time. I glanced at my read 12:05 am.

          As my friends would testify, nothing can actually disturb my sleep...and so given that reputation of mine, I just ignored it all and turned over after pulling the curtains again. Just when I was about to get back to what I do best (sleep that is), a dead weight...probably close to a ton fall on my legs....and it would not move. That woke me up....and I was grumpy. I saw a 40-somthing lady making herself comfortable on my seat, at the cost of my precious sleep. When I peeped out of the curtain, I realised a family of 5 had just boarded the train with waitlisted tickets.

          The men started with area domination, as the armed forces do after reclaiming the land from naxalites. The females did their part by sanitizing the area by sprinkling ‘ganga jal’ (water from the river Ganges-supposed to purify anything and everything). A few drops did fell on me, which I chose to ignore. But hey, I can’t complain....I was being purified. All the single berth holders were cajoled off to other coaches, even if they had done their part of area domination before the melee started at the stroke of midnight. Once the dust settled, came a pot bellied man wearing a dark but dirty coat. You guessed it right. He was the TTE. From the corner of my eyes I caught him make a fellow waitlisted passengers cough off Rs.200 each in lieu of berths.

          Finally the chaos settled and once the lights were switched off. I thanked God for that for I could go back to sleep. I was proved wrong though. I strange pattern of weird noise disturbed me....and it would reach its crescendo every 2minand then get back to normal. It was the lady next door (berth) snoring her way to glory. The gentleman, not to be left behind in this ‘Indian-railway-idol’ show, promptly started to showcase his DJ skills on loudspeaker of his god forbidden Chinese made cell phone. If that was not enough for the night, the song that played was a popular ‘nasal’ number. I was in the middle of a nasal cacophony – snoring and singing all at once.

         The next morning, I woke up to the nuggets of wisdom from the Alpha male of the bunch, explaining how to be roman when in Rome. His analogy was stupendous. He said, because they use coconut oil down south to cook, he would carry with him home made food supplies for the entire duration of his tour. Roman indeed....need I say any more. Suddenly our man took out his cam coder from his bag. Its price tag was still intact though it looked fairly old. He started recording with his pricey but old cam coder, with running commentary. Though it was a bit awkward being in front of the lens, I acted normal. Once the train reached Vishakhapatnam, the compulsive commentator announced to the camcorder and us in general “we are now reaching Vishakhapatnam. This is the capital of Andhra Pradesh” For a moment I could not believe my ears. I could not help myself and told him that Hyderabad and not vizag is AP’s capital. Bang!!!! Came the reply with an air of superlative sanguinity, “u don’t know dear, its Vishakhapatnam now”. WOW....that was it...What could I say....geography re-recorded.

        For GOD SAKE....I was travelling in a train on a valid ticket, in an upper class coach. I was wondering, if u have deaf and dumb as co passengers while travelling by air, this must be the ‘great Indian cattle class’, the term now made famous by a very well respected former minister.

          I thanked God for that was the last leg of the most irritable train journey I had till date. But on the hindsight, it was fun. I still LMAO about it. For if it had not happened, ‘this’ would never had come up. And I sincerely hope Mr. ‘Know it all’ DJ get his facts right next time he is trying to shoot and comment on something.

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